Tag: work ethic

Winners and Losers

Recently, everybody’s favorite crazy uncle of old media, the New York Times, asked the loaded question, “What Drives Success?” The article pointed out that some ethnic groups are more economically successful than others, and it pinpointed three reasons for this. The first is “a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.”

It’s an interesting thesis. But lost in the analysis and point-by-point explanation was this side note: “Most fundamentally, groups rise and fall over time. The fortunes of WASP elites have been declining for decades.”

In other words, nobody stays at the top or the bottom forever. And as the article points out, “The fact that groups rise and fall this way punctures the whole idea of ‘model minorities’ or that groups succeed because of innate, biological differences.”

dna strands

So for all the people who think Latinos are innately inferior, keep in mind that there are some “Hispanic groups in America that far outperform some white and Asian groups,” and that this trend is likely to accelerate.

The fortunes of groups twist and turn in a perpetual cycle. And one can choose to find that either comforting or terrifying.

 


Faith or Delusion?

I’ve written before that Latinos tend to be more optimistic about life and have more confidence in their economic futures.

thumbsup

Well, a new survey confirms that Hispanics’ “faith in the American Dream exceeds that of whites and African Americans,” adding that this optimism “contrasts sharply with the current economic status of Hispanics.”

Basically, even though the Great Recession hit Latinos harder than most groups, it is those same Hispanics who have the strongest belief that everything will work out fine. According to the survey’s authors, “the upbeat attitude … is due in part to the fact that Hispanic immigrants often start with little and expect to sacrifice much to move up, while native-born adults may have already seen their expectations lose ground in an ailing economy.”

So whites and blacks, whose roots in America are more likely to go back generations, tend to say, “This sucks worse than ever.” But Latinos often shrug off the same bad news with “I’ve seen worse.”

Still, as great as it is that Latinos are remaining optimistic and staying strong, “the reality for most Hispanics is less rosy” than their faith implies.

So the question becomes, is this determined mindset a self-fulfilling prophecy, where hard work and a never-say-die spirit is rewarded? Or are Latinos just saps for still believing “they are more likely to move up than down in social class over the next few years”?

In any case, the survey points out that “the hopes and struggles of Hispanics are of particular interest now as they are exercising unprecedented political clout.”

Yes, it’s good to have faith. But it’s better to have power.

 


No Relaxing Allowed

As I’ve written before, we Hispanics are known for our fierce work ethic.

Think of immigrants slaving away at grueling tasks that native-born Americans refuse to do. Or consider that last year, “the number of Latino entrepreneurs grew more than white, black, and Asian entrepreneurs.”

Yes, we sure like to work. It’s unfortunate, then, that so many Hispanics who reach old age have nothing to show for it. This is because “fewer than half of … Latino workers have retirement plans on the job, leaving the vast majority of them with no savings designated for their golden years.”

hammock

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Back in My Day

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently became a father. My wife and I were having one of those most natural of conversations, which was discussing what kind of person our son will grow up to be.

Somehow, we got into a “those kids today” rant about how cushy the Millennials have it. After all, my wife and I are Gen X, so we didn’t have the internet, iPods, and bike helmets. We didn’t have parents chauffeuring us around to special events geared just for our age group, nor did we have culturally enriching programs that told us how special we were. And of course, there was never the option of living with mom and dad indefinitely.

Yes, after talking about our childhoods, my wife and I were feeling pretty good about our toughness and resiliency. Look how cool we are!

gen_x_logo

Then we remembered our parents.

My mother grew up in a third-world Latin American country where she literally walked miles barefoot to school each day. Then she came to America, where she knew nobody and barely spoke the language. As for my wife’s father, he was a child during the Great Depression, and he went to sleep hungry most nights.

Yeah, that shut us up pretty damn quickly.

 


Stranglehold

I’ve written before about the asphyxiating grasp that rich people have on the American Dream. As we know, the concept of social mobility is, at best, a faded myth that may never be relevant again. At worst, it is delusional pabulum served up to the masses to prevent them from revolting.

torch-and-pitchfork

 

But just in case you thought you could get ahead by sheer hard work and a can-do attitude, consider the following fact: According to one study, your degree of social mobility depends to a large degree upon where you live.

So for those of you who are poor in, say, Georgia, the odds are pretty good that your children are not going to swing the middle-class lifestyle. But don’t worry, “the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.” So again, the rich are going to be ok.

But wait — isn’t education the great equalizer? Well, nabbing a college degree is indeed one of the best ways to increase your income. Unfortunately, many kids are being priced out by tuitions that can only be called obscene. Again, however, you don’t have to fret over the wealthy. Because “college students have a better chance of getting financial aid if they come from affluent backgrounds than if they are lower on the income scale.” Yes, once again, the wealthy get a break denied to others, even if — as in this case — they don’t need it nearly as much as people on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale.

Of course, Hispanic kids are less likely to be rich in the first place. And thanks to backward cultural priorities, the odds are good that their children and grandchildren won’t be financially secure either.

Well, at least it won’t be awkward at Thanksgiving dinner, because we won’t have to endure about those rich relatives flaunting their wealth. Because everybody will be broke.

 


Loud and Proud…Or at Least Loud

Decades after James Brown first exhorted his brethren to say it loud (“I’m black and I’m proud), another group of oppressed Americans — gay people — adopted the idea and found resounding success in proclaiming their pride.

James+Brown+jamesbrown

But African Americans, gays, and (presumably) gay African Americans are not the only people who are proud of their culture.

Latinos are well-known for bursting with pride for their heritage. However, while such expressions of ethnic boosterism are practically required on Puerto Rican Day, or during Hispanic Heritage Month, or — Lord help us — Cinco de Mayo, such statements often come across as just empty phrases.

After all, do we have good reason to be proud?

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Mind the Gap

Here’s a cheery statistic that you may have missed: The wealthiest 1 percent now control 39 percent of the world’s wealth, and their share is likely to grow in the coming years.

greed

What this means is that while you were digging out from the Great Recession — or are still digging out — multimillionaires coasted through just fine. And the gap between the uber-wealthy and the rest of us is the widest it has been in about a half century.

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Duh

Well, I was going to post something insightful about the Heritage Foundation’s claims that Latinos are genetically destined to be low-IQ drains on society. But I’m just too dim to find fault with what is clearly rigorous, scientifically validated research free of any racial animus. Nope, can’t be done.

In fact, I won’t even point out this study, which implies that both conservatives and racists (and there may be some overlap) tend to have lower IQs themselves. I’m just not bright enough to quote that research.

So instead I’m going to give a shout out to someone I have dismissed regularly, Mr. George Lopez. He pointed out that the GOP obsession with portraying Latinos as threats to America is “fucking crazy.”

another-crazy-lady

It may not be articulate, but it is accurate.

 


What’s Spanish for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”?

It may be bourgeois of us, but my wife and I have decided that we need some nanny help with our newborn.

Not much, mind you, just someone who can help out for a few hours each week while the two of us are working.

So we’ve started interviewing potential caregivers, and at the risk of generalizing, I couldn’t help but notice something about the five nannies we interviewed.

We asked each of them what they planned to do whenever the baby napped during their shift.

Three said they would perform light housekeeping, run errands, and basically keep working.  Two said they would remain on the clock, but they would not do any extra work, unless maybe we upped their salary.

The three who wanted to keep busy were immigrants (from Latin America, Africa, and Europe, respectively). The two who declined work and/or wanted more money were American-born.

Admittedly, this is a small sample size. However, I was struck by how clearly the work ethic cleaved between the two groups.

By the way, we didn’t ask about their backgrounds, but the women either volunteered the information, or it was obvious.

Now, I’m not saying that American-born individuals are lazy. In fact, maybe they have the right idea. After all, why shouldn’t they negotiate for the best wage they can get? That’s the American way.

On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that immigrants are willing to do whatever it takes to snag a job in this country. And they don’t make excuses about a task being beneath them, or whine about too much work. That is also the American way.

I’d like to think that both aspects are admirable, under the right circumstances.

But for right now, we’re still interviewing.

 


What? Me, Worry?

A year ago, I wrote about how the Great Recession hit Latinos hard. At the time, I was hopeful that the worst was behind us. Perhaps that was my natural Hispanic tendency to be optimistic.

After all, Latinos “are worse off, but they are still more positive about where the country is going” compared to most Americans. In particular, “Latino small-business owners are among the fastest growing and most upbeat [groups] in the nation,” and they “worry less about job security and are more positive and humble.”

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